Thursday 3rd August, 2017

It helps if you apply a little oil

Posted by at 1:49 pm in Dehydrating.

There are a couple of important bits here - which oil to use on your banana, and how to apply it. The rest is innuendo-free.

After trying a few oils, I've found that coconut oil is the best option. There are quite a few options available in supermarkets, the best I've used so far is Morrisons Liquid Coconut Oil Blend which has 80% fractionated coconut oil, the rest is sunflower oil and some flavouring. It's cheap, easy to use, and a small bottle lasts for ages - and it's the magic ingredient. Don't be tempted to use the waxy "solid" oil - it's a pig to work with and doesn't yield better results. During the drying process most of the oil is driven off, leaving only a hint of coconut which lets the banana taste come through really well. As a side benefit, it makes the house smell nice during the drying phase.

The oiling method is quite simple, the main thing is to get full coverage of your banana using the smallest possible amount of oil. Peel the over-ripe bananas (if they are starting to blacken that's a good thing) and use a brush or clean fingers to apply the tiniest amount of oil to the surface of them. Leave them until the oil has soaked in, which usually takes about 10 minutes tops - if it takes any longer you've used too much oil.

Of course, the skins and any bad bits go into one of the compost bins to feed next year's spuds. Nothing's wasted.






After that, use a chopping knife to cut the bananas into suitably sized/shaped chunks. I prefer angled cuts because having an overhanging "lip" on the chunks helps when peeling them off the drying sheet during the drying process - more on that later.




Put the chunks onto drying sheets in the dehydrator trays. Nowadays we use proper silicone sheets but baking parchment sheets work just as well. Avoid using greaseproof paper - it tears and leaves bits stuck to the chunks. Don't be tempted to oil the sheets, the chunks will stick hard and will be pulled apart when it's time to peel them off to turn them over. In theory, after the drying process has started, the oil helps a skin to form on the uncut surface. The soaked-in oil then has to migrate through the inside, forcing the internal water out of the oil-free cut faces.

Now you should put the kettle on and make yourself a well-deserved cuppa while leaving the trays uncovered until the chunks just start to blacken, as cut bananas do. 10 - 20 minutes should be enough, much depends on how over-ripe they are and how warm the room is.




After that, stick the trays in the dehydrator at about 70C for 12 hours, re-ordering the stack every so often to ensure that they each get equal amounts of heating and drying.

I'll post again when that bit's finished.

Wednesday 2nd August, 2017

This week I’ll mostly be inserting bananas…

Posted by at 11:36 pm in Dehydrating.

... into our dehydrator.

Earlier this year, after stumbling across the magic ingredient needed to make truly excellent dried bananas which are neither hard nor soft nor burned nor crumbly nor sticky, I'd made a few small batches to find the best setup for our latest dehydrator and the best dosing of oil. I'd been consuming the output ever since, as quick snacks and as walking-fuel, and it was becoming clear that I'd need to make more fairly soon.

This evening saw us at Asda doing the weekly shopping, and by strange chance they had bags of shelf-reject bananas at just the right level of over-ripeness, all on offer at one-third the normal price. Never one to walk away from a bargain without due consideration, I swung this pile of 36 for the stupidly-low price of just £1.54:

16 of them are already prepped and in the machine, another 16 will be fed in when there is room for them. The remaining four were perfects and are now in the fruit-bowl for general consumption.

I'll post a few more pics of the method and the product when they're a bit further along.

Tuesday 1st August, 2017

A waste of time and money for all concerned

Posted by at 3:10 pm in A bit of a rant.

It's that time again. The annual Vascular Review. It's always a good indicator of how provincial our NHS is.

My GP's surgery is in Leicestershire and if I need specialist treatment they refer me to one of the three Leicester hospitals which use a common networked data system so there's a shared data repository. The edited highlights, such as blood-test results, treatment regimes and medical procedures are communicated to my GP. It's not rocket-science.

At that same Leicestershire GP surgery is a Vascular Clinic (VC) where they monitor "those who have a medical history of Coronary Heart Disease (Heart Attacks and Angina), Strokes or Mini-Strokes and Peripheral Vascular Disease". Once a year they take your bloods, send them off for testing, and later they call you back in for a review. The VC team works independently, keeps its own records, and sends the bloods for testing at The George Eliot over the border in Warwickshire.

But there are problems... the Leicestershire data system and the Warwickshire data system don't interact very well at all, and access to one does not necessarily give access to the other.

So on the one hand we have GPs who get the data from the Leicester hospitals, and on the other hand we have the VC team which gets the Warwickshire blood-test results but can't access any of the 137 blood-test results that the Leicester hospitals have on record for me from FBC/cholesterol/ferritin/glucose tests done during the last 20 months (including 21 test results since the previous Vascular Review), tests which will continue to be done on a frequent basis for at least another 16 months, and intermittently after that until I fall off the perch of mortality and go on to mime in the Norwegian Blue Choir.

It would be so easy if the VC team could use either the phone or the computer to call up my most-recent test-results (13th July 2017 at The Royal), review them, and then either phone me or send me a letter telling me that I don't need to attend because all is well. I already know that all is well - the team at The Royal is currently checking these things at least once every two months, not once every 12 months.

But no, that's far too simple and therefore it can't be done. Instead, to maintain the unnecessary complexity and wastefulness that the NHS has become inured to, I had to attend an appointment at the VC for another needle in the arm (but, strangely, they did no standard obs such as blood pressures, heart-rate, respiration and sats), and now I'm waiting to be called in for another appointment at the VC for a review of the results when they become available. It's unlikely that anything bad will show up, but if it does it'll mean yet another appointment with the GP which will probably result in a referral to one of the three Leicester hospitals, thus perpetuating the data disconnect.

Bloody Hell, as the saying goes.

Monday 31st July, 2017

You give ’em clip-boards and lanyards, and all of a sudden they think they know Everything

Everything, that is, except where the arse-ends of their vans are.

This guy works for the Council so he probably really does believe that he owns the road:

Wednesday 26th July, 2017

On Three

Not sure that I agree with everything here, but it's a good effort:

Saturday 22nd July, 2017

I’m back

Posted by at 8:00 pm in Great Escapes, Pics.

Released back into the wild, the dominant male heads to the high ground to reclaim his territory:


S7317 - 2,861 ft (872m)

Thursday 13th July, 2017

AML’s Ass… well and truly kicked

Posted by at 4:35 pm in Illness and injury.

There's good news for a change - for the first time since diagnosis way back at the end of 2015, all of my key test results are in the green zone. The consultant declared me to be "normal" - a sweeping statement that I soon corrected, much to her amusement. I've not been "normal" ever since the first time my Mum took me, newborn, out in the pram to go to her local butcher's shop. She parked me up outside, went in, bought her pound of flesh and then went home. A while later she realised that two things were missing - me and the pram! 😳 Mentally-scarred for life, I was.

Anyway, the usual caveats apply - in theory the docs could have given me someone else's results again, but I think I'll give them the benefit of the doubt this time.

Here you go:

It's been an interesting journey, thanks for sharing it with me.

Wednesday 12th July, 2017

Badministrative errors

Posted by at 8:00 pm in A bit of a rant.

The school's website is just as dodgy as its messaging service.

For ALL of the current academic year their website's calendar has been telling all and sundry that this term will end on Friday July 14th. We booked our holiday with that date in mind:

Furthermore, for many weeks it has been telling the same all and sundry that the Year 12 Futures (Future's???) Conference finishes on Thursday July 13th:

Well, it ain't so. TODAY we found out that TODAY is both the last day of term for Year 12 students and the last day of the Year 12 Futures (Future's???) Conference.

You can guess how diplomatic I was when I phoned the school to listen to the staff pointing the verbal finger of blame at the admins and concocting made-up-on-the-fly excuses.

FFS, HAJC, if you're going to have an informative website, the least you could do is check that the information there is actually correct.

Omission and Commission

Posted by at 4:34 pm in Rambling on....

If the standard of SPAG in their text messages is much to go by, I'm relieved that she's not studying A-Level English Language there:

I think the question of the commissioned apostrophe may not be sufficient, I'll probably have to organise my own search-party to find the missing colon, the absent full-stop and the omitted capitalisation of the sentence-start. I'm fairly sure that there aren't enough "the"s or "a"s in there either.

Sunday 9th July, 2017

Wonkumbers (now with added Prezi)

Posted by at 10:54 am in In the garden.

The first few were normal, so I'm fairly sure that these are not supposed to look like this:

Or like this:

Wonky cucumbers.

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